Category Archives: old school

Neighbors and Community

(Note this is from Jan 30, 2013 from another blog I am combining with The Diaries.)

Last week Mother Nature decided to turn the house around the ranch into a Winter Wonderland. Nothing new for SW Michigan. Let the jet stream align with a warm Lake Michigan and hold onto your mittens! The mediocre-olgists called for 6-10 inches of snow. Not much for some, other it may grind things to a halt. Around here its the former. No biggie. Its Michigan y’all!


Last week everything aligned and we go snow. And more snow. After three days of lake effect snow we have about 20 inches in the backyard. Again not a big deal just more than I was expecting. Went from a single time snow blowing the driveway to do it 3 times in 3 days. Just wasn’t expecting it. But was ready and dealt with it.


Anyway I am getting distracted. While blowing snow on the 2nd day I saw the neighbor the east get on his little UTV. He plowed his drive in no time. Cools beans. Then I see him go to the neighbors to the west. Cool.
The neighbor to the west has had a variety of medical issues over the last year and isn’t in a condition to handle clearing out 15 inches of snow. Granted his son usually comes out and plows his drive but knowing the East Neighbor is thinking of him and taking care of him is good to know.


Note on the East Neighbor. He and his wife are good people. We only talk to them once or twice a year. We each keep to ourselves. A couple years back during a similar lake effect storm I was out with a horrid illness and lost my voice (bad since I have to talk on the phone just to work). Our drive was getting pretty bad. One day East Neighbor plowed it, with out being asked. It was amazing to know he was there to help. I told K and the kids to make some ‘Nanner bread. Didn’t have money to pay him but a couple warm loaves of fresh ‘Nanner bread got my point across.


I keep getting distracted. While blowing snow, East Neighbor drove back from West Neighbor’s. He pulled into our drive and up to me. We talk for about 20 minutes about hunting, fishing, weather, life, etc.
The point I am trying to make is you don’t have to eat dinner every night with your neighbors to be a community. One of the main tenants of survival I have learned from the Survival Podcast is community. This is a great example of how it works. My neighbors and I stay out of each others business until one needs help. Then we step up and act like neighbors. Doesn’t seem hard eh?




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Filed under 13 skills, nimrod, old school

Yes, You Can Make Butter at Home!

“We can’t make butter in a jar!!” Monkey Boy proclaimed when I told him and his sister sidekick we were going to make butter.

“Trust me buddy we can do it,” I replied.  My assurance fell on deaf ears as he looked at this like one of the many crazy ideas Nimrod comes up with.

The idea of making butter with the kids has been in my mind for awhile. I don’t recall where I first read of this way of making butter but let me state this is NOT my idea. Butter has been made at home, in jars, in churns, etc for a very long time.

I love teaching kids and others how to make things at home as I always find myself learning along the way. The idea of not relying on a store and its supply chain to eat well has intrigued me for quite awhile. Granted to make butter like this you need a supply of heavy whipping cream. If you live in a semi rural area you should be able to find alternative and local sources. Thus keeping your money in your local economy, helping a local farmer and giving you peace of mind knowing what is in the food your feed your family.

Will we come to a time when our local stores have trouble or can not get food in? Hope not. Even if it never happens there are many ways for your family to eat well with local food and as I said your money stays in your local economy… not lost into a chain store. If the time comes where in coming food supplies are short knowing how to feed your family on locally available sources will be very handy. If you just want to have some fun with your family and watch your kids faces when they actually make their own butter… whatever works for you and your family. Don’t over complicate it.

Another benefit is keeping these ways alive. We may never need to make our own butter. Maybe we will. Either way keeping the ways of our ancestors alive hurts no one and can provide low cost and fun entertainment for your family. Then if the time comes where we need to rely on ourselves to provide for our families the learning curve will be way shorter.

These directions are how we made our butter based on my memory. It works and makes some great butter. These are guidelines for you but be sure to research things like shelf life, caloric value, etc if you or a family member is sensitive to those things.

(My apologies for the mediocre pictures. My camera battery was charging. These were taken with the camera in my phone. They get the point across but are not very good.)

We started with 2 things. One half pint of heavy whipping cream and one quart mason jar with lid. That’s it. No other additives or equipment needed. Well I guess you need someone to shake the jar but if you talk up the kids enough they will provide most all the energy needed.

Pour the heavy whipping cream into the jar, put the lid on it and shake. Keep shaking!

About 3 minutes in the liquid will start to thicken as it changes into whipped cream. Keep shaking!

About 3 more minutes before you get a thick whipped cream.

At this point Monkey Boy and Munda had trouble shaking the whipped cream so Yoop took over.

After about 3 minutes the whipped cream goes back to a semi liquid. Keep shaking!

You will start to notice a ball of solid in the middle. That’s the butta baby! Keep shaking!

I timed it at about 6 minutes after the heavy whipped cream stage to where the butter is done. Times will vary but it gives you a rough time frame.

Once you see the butter ball… or is it a ball of butter? Anyway once it looks like butter and you aren’t getting any more liquid out your done. You can stop shaking now!

Congrats!! You have made your own butter. Took about 15 minutes and is a tad bit of work. But its cheaper and more fun than buying real butter in the store.

Find a suitable container and put the butter into it. Now enjoy the fruits of your labor! When I asked Monkey Boy if it was good he said it was “DELICIOUS!” (no emphasis added)

I asked Munda if it was good and with a mouth full she replied “Yummmmm!” That is about the best stamp of approval you will get from my kids.

Munda and I delivered some of the butter to our neighbors. Turns out they were just sitting down for a dinner of pork roasted with taters and veggies and some rolls that were fresh out of the oven. I called later and asked how the butter was. Grandma B replied “Excellent.” She also asked for us to show her how we made it. Another stamp of approval.

Whoa… wait a minute… I got ahead of myself. You didn’t dump out the liquid when you put the butter in the container did you? DON’T! That my friends is called butter milk. Yea the stuff used in cooking. You can use it where you would use store bought buttermilk. We haven’t decided what we are going to use ours for but I will post the update on Facebook and Twitter once we do.

Here is the break down of what we used and what we ended up with. I made a second batch before writing this to get a better idea of the times of each stage.

1 pint of heavy whipping cream for $3.78 (2 half pints @ $1.89 each)

We had the mason jar and lid on hand. If you don’t a similar container would work fine. Just make sure the lid fits tight. Would hate to have the lid come off and the contents to fly across your house!

We ended up filling an 8 ounce butter container, with a tad extra. Lets say about 10 ounces as an estimate.

We put the buttermilk in a pint mason jar. The graduated markings on the side read just under 1 cup of buttermilk.

Not as cheap as margarine in the store. Doesn’t need to be. You can say you know whats in the butter, you and your family had some fun making it, etc. Those two alone make up for the price variance.

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We would love to hear about your adventures making butter at home.  The future is you, pass it on!

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Filed under butter, kids, nimrod, old school, self sufficiency